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Jean Gidding's Small Gifts Bring Big Smiles

Celebrating a year of extraordinary CVPH People & A Much Deserved Retirement

The following is the first CVPH People blog, launched a year ago to celebrate the extraordinary people who come to work here each day and devote their head, hands and heart to their patients, their peers and their community.  We’re also reposting this blog as a tribute to Jean Giddings of Environmental Services who retires after 38 years. Congratulations Jean and thank you!

Jean Giddings, a 36-year veteran of the Environmental Services Department, makes her way across the parking lot to her car. It’s been a long day – 4 discharges. The trash bag filled with empty cans and bottles skips on the pavement reminding her to raise those tired arms a bit higher.  She lifts just enough to keep the peace because that bag holds the promise of a few more patient smiles.

With those bottles and cans she’ll buy items for patients on her floor, R5 – the oncology/cancer nursing unit. Simple pleasures.  It’s something she’s been doing since 1984. She’s not sure how much she has collected or even spent on her pet project   but it really doesn’t matter. You can’t put a price tag on kindness.

“I promised myself that if I got my own floor, I’d do something like this,” she said.  Jean remembers her experiences with a family member who battled cancer. “It’s a tough thing.”  The first five years as CVPH employee were spent as a float person (she was assigned different units). When she joined the R5 team, she’d often help patients pay for their TV service or phone service. Today, those amenities are free.

As an Environmental Service Worker, Jean is on the front line of infection prevention. She’s also one of many friendly people a patient may interact with each day. The nature of her job duties allow her get to know her patients – to chat a little while she cleans and disinfects the room.  “I was bringing the New York Times on the floor because my patient asked me to.  Because that’s what she liked to do,” Jean explained.

Her outgoing personality and an ability to chat with anyone make her a perfect fit for the R5 team.  The gift giving is icing on the cake. “One patient, who had been with us before, made a point of showing me a stuffed animal I had given her during her earlier stay,” she said with a smile.  Another patient prompted a hunt for a small stuffed devil. “I looked all over the place for one – everywhere I went.  The patient sadly passed before I could find one. Now, whenever I see a small devil, I think of him.”

Lottery tickets, magazines, crossword puzzles, toiletries and even an electric razor for the unit are gifts from Jean. She keeps store bought shampoo on the floor and other personal items, too. “I think people like that stuff because it reminds them of home,” she explained.  “I do it because it makes me feel good,“ she said.